An unfortunate timing of events during the second round of qualifying left Colton Herta with a 10th-place starting position for Today’s Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama.
The second-generation driver has been one of the focal points of the weekend after starting the festivities by leading opening practice on Friday, followed by a third in Saturday morning’s second practice. However, a run at pole never came to be, though, after being knocked out of the Fast 12.
The aforementioned event happened when Marcus Ericsson spun out in Turn 8 in the session’s final minute of expiration. At the time, Herta was on the track putting together a final run for the Fast Six a red flag halted and brought an abrupt end to the effort.
Herta’s No. 26 Andretti Autosport Honda came across the line 11th but was promoted one position to 10th after Ericsson was relegated out from his top 10 spot to 12th as a result of a penalty, which IndyCar took away his two fastest laps for causing a red flag.
“We were going for two laps,” Herta told NBC Sports reporter Marty Snider during the Peacock stream. “Same as what we did in now in the first round, but we just waited a little bit too long and unfortunately Ericsson chucked it off and ruined it for us.”
As the red flag was displayed, the 22-year-old Californian was confused on radio communication, questioning why they didn’t elect to go out earlier to get ahead of everybody.
“Yeah, so that’s what I thought we were doing because that’s when we did the run before,” Herta said. “But this time we waited, everybody went by. I’m not sure how much of a difference it would’ve made. Maybe I could have had a little bit better a first lap, but I’m still not sure if it would’ve gotten us up there or not.
“Who knows? 10th now. 10th isn’t terrible. We can work from there and who knows what the weather’s going to bring (Sunday).”
This isn’t an uncommon strategy, at least to Herta and his team. They were the defending pole winners from the Long Beach Grand Prix.
“Yeah, it’s the reason we got to pole at Long Beach, because we did a lap less than everybody,” said Herta, who finished 10th in Saturday’s final practice following qualifying. “So we had one lap less on the tires, which doesn’t seem like a lot but when you feel the difference in tire deg [degradation] and stuff, it does make a big difference.”